While many tourists flock to Cape Town every summer, Capetonians themselves might need a break from the city.
Says Avukile Mabombo, Group Marketing Manager of Protea Hotels by Marriott and African Pride Hotels, “From the well-trodden track to the ultimate scenic route, from The Karoo to beach, there is a wide variety of destinations within reach.”
Whatever you decide, why not take the slow route (and steer clear of crowded airports) and hit the wide-open road? So where to? Why not try the scenic and laidback Route 62?
Also read: Top 5 Magical South African Road Trips
With the completion of the N2 highway in 1958, this route became somewhat sleepy and, as the official Route 62 website states, the villages went into hibernation – but “have been beautifully preserved”. In recent years, the route has had an awakening and sees many tourists loping through in search of the scenic route up country.
Linking Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, the Cape Route 62 tourist route takes a slow meander through Paarl, Wellington, Tulbagh, Ceres, Worcester, Robertson, McGregor, Bonnievale, Montagu, Barrydale, Ladysmith, and Oudtshoorn, with many more towns and scenic detours along the way.
“This route is more about the journey than the destination,” Mabombo comments, “and travellers should stop and take in the scenery.”
Where to stay:
- Protea Hotel Riempie Estate in Oudtshoorn oozes country charm, with thatched chalets and rooms in a farm-like setting. The hotel is pet friendly, and is located just 20 minutes from the famous Cango Caves as well as crocodile and ostrich farms.
- Warmwaterberg Spa in Barrydale offers a hot mineral spring surrounded by beautiful mountains, with options for camping, caravan sites and self-catering accommodation.
- The Donkey Trail takes you over the Swartberg Mountains from Calitzdorp to Die Hel (the way travelers had to go on foot before a road was built). Starting at the Hans and Erika Calitz family farm named “Living Waters” near Calitzdorp, you can take the 25km trail over three nights and two days, while your supplies are carried by donkey. The trail package will include comfortable accommodation at Living Waters, Wyenek Camp and Die Hel as well as meals, guides, donkeys, and return transport.
Where to eat:
- Look out for the infamous Ronnie’s Sex Shop in Barrydale – not a sex shop, but a pub where you can party as loud as you like because there are no neighbours to disturb. They offer pub lunches as well as braai facilities, with braai packs and salads available.
- Cafe on Weltevrede in Bonnievale offers breathtaking views over vineyards and serves up platters of local cheeses, breads, olives, and cured meats, paired with Weltevrede wines.
- Pop into Brandewyntuin Restaurant at the Klipdrift Brandy Distillery in Robertson for a variety of foods featuring…you guessed it…brandy. The “star of the show” is the Klipdrift burger. While there, go for a tour and/or tasting and pop into the Klipdrift gift shop.
Also read: Out and About in Bonnievale
- The peaceful Barrydale Heritage Garden showcases the floral wealth of the winter rainfall area between Barrydale and Ladysmith. You can also take a small detour to the Barrydale Wine Cellar to taste local wines “as unique to the region as the plants in the garden”.
- Visit the Parmalat Cheese Factory in the Valley of Cheese and Wine, Bonnievale. It is the largest single cheese factory in southern Africa and renowned for being the first dairy production facility to comply with all requirements to produce cheese for export to EU countries (among other achievements).
- Meerkatmagic in Oudtshoorn is a unique research and conservation project using ethical techniques to gain the trust of wild animals. Here you can walk with meerkats, without disturbing them, while learning about their language and behavioural patterns.
- Montagu Museum is located in a beautiful church and national monument, built in 1907 and housing the museum since 1975, in the heart of this charming town. The museum showcases a collection of works by South African artist Francois Krige, who lived and worked in Montagu.
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